A lot of people would love to start an online business. Unfortunately, not everyone has the capital to go as big as they’d like when setting it up. However, many people will start one with having little or no money. All it takes is determination, motivation and a willingness to learn as you go.
This isn’t saying that business education is a waste of time. On the contrary, a good education could be worth the investment. However, not everyone has the funds to go back to school let alone start a business.
So, what should you know when you’re ready to step up and build a business from the ground up without a dime to your name? Well, here are 15 things you might find useful about how to get into an online business when you’re broke.
1. Identify Your Target Market
In 2014, it was discovered that 42 percent of failed startups were from the result of a poor market for products and services. This didn’t mean that the ideas themselves were bad, but that the immediate market had no use for the business. For example, it would be difficult to sell air conditioning units to people living in Alaska.
From the perspective of an online business, this will be more centered around marketing. If you offer a specific service or product, you need to make sure the right people are getting those advertisements. This may take a bit of research as you need to identify who will be the most interested in what you offer.
Thanks to the various marketing tools available on the Internet, this process can be easier than you might think.
2. Social Media is Your Friend
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are excellent platforms for marketing. First of all, it costs nothing to create profiles specifically for your online business. You can start using these immediately to focus on engaging your target market.
Nearly 80 percent of people in the United States have a social media profile of some kind. Depending on the type of online services you offer, you have access to literally millions of potential buyers through these hubs.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll access all of these people instantly. It takes a bit of strategy and planning to get their attention when you post something new on your profile.
3. Know Your Skill Set
It doesn’t take much for anyone to identify a skill that can be offered online. Many freelancers make their living from providing services ranging from filing online documents to writing. If you have a marketable talent to offer, then you don’t need an investment for products.
In 2015, approximately one-third of the entire workforce in the US participated in freelance work of some kind. A large portion of this was due to online business operations. When you don’t need anything but your skills and an Internet connection, it’s possible to develop a degree of success.
The hardest part about offering yourself in such a manner is realizing the amount of competition you’ll face.
4. Crowdfunding May Be a Source of Finances
Crowdfunding is when you post your business idea on sites like Kickstarter or IndiGoGo and receive donations from others. These platforms have helped a lot of people get their projects off the ground. What makes these platforms ideal is that you don’t have to worry about paying back a loan.
Unfortunately, not all projects can reach their goals. For instance, only 28.7 percent of projects on Kickstarter actually reached their monetary amounts. Since most platforms like this will deny a payment if a goal isn’t reached, you can’t assume you’ll have success raising revenue.
On the upside, crowdfunding costs nothing to join and has potential to be a worthwhile venture depending on your idea.
5. Google Analytics Can Be Enlightening
Knowing how people visit your website can help you focus your ideas about the online business. One of the things that makes this tool one of the most used analytical applications on the Internet is the fact that it’s free to use.
If you’re investing in eCommerce, it can show you what products are hot. If you offer various freelance services, you can see what people are more interested in. It all comes down to the data collected by Google Analytics and what you do with that information.
Depending on how the site is set up, you can even identify specific demographics such as gender and location. This can be greatly beneficial when creating a marketing plan later.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Competition
Because it’s easy to get the ball rolling for an online business, you need to be aware of the competition. You’re not the only one trying to make a living off of the Internet without an extensive bankroll. In fact, this is often one of the top 10 reasons why many businesses fail according to many experts.
Starting an online company without money doesn’t guarantee failure. It doesn’t guarantee success, either. It’s worth your time to perform your own kind of reconnaissance to discover how the other guys are working. Don’t try to copy the competition, though. Do what you can to make your company better.
7. You Don’t Really Need Staff
While having an extra set of hands would be beneficial in some cases, it’s not a necessity. Don’t worry about trying to pay someone to perform a task that you can do yourself. If you don’t have any money to begin with, you can’t really pay this person, right?
Some owners believe they need to delegate and have a strong workforce in order to be successful. For a startup, it may be putting you on the hook for paying someone when the coffers are limited. Besides, there are many ways to outsource small tasks to other freelancers in the event you are dire for some help later on.
8. Start Small
You don’t have to step into the world of business with an extensive portfolio or a vast array of goods to sell. When you have no money, starting small gives you the chance to build up the company. Some owners started with just a few items to sell out of their basement and expanded into larger facilities.
Again, this centers around how well you market the brand and how much effort you put into the business. Even the smallest of online startups can attract a consumer base with the right ads or the perfect comment in social media. It’s all about building a reputation for excellent service.
Let the income of the business provide its own expansion.
9. Do You Really Need a Business Loan?
For a traditional startup, a business loan may be ideal to get the equipment and products needed for the company. However, not a lot of funding is required when operating an online organization. While you might need a few pieces of equipment to get started, it may take less money than you realize.
If you’re looking to start an eCommerce business and need money for inventory, be smart with it. Essentially, you can run the business out of a room in your house using an old laptop. Keep your expenses as low as possible and you won’t need a hefty loan that will loom over your head for the next several years.
You may be surprised with what you don’t need for the business just by using some of the things you have laying around your house.
10. You Don’t Need a Commercial Office
One of the best things about an online business is that it doesn’t necessarily require a physical location. You don’t have to worry about rent or overhead expenses such as utility bills. In fact, some online businesses can travel with you regardless of where you go.
The home-based business makes up approximately 52 percent of all small businesses in the United States. Should these individuals decide to move to a new part of the country, it’s possible the company can move with them without a hassle.
However, this will also depend on the type of online organization you develop. Something like an eCommerce store may take a bit of effort to move.
11. Don’t Be Afraid to Learn and Grow
If you’re new to starting a business, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a trouble-free experience. There is a great deal to learn ranging from customer service to marketing. A large portion of this education may wind up coming from trial and error. That shouldn’t stop you from learning how to adapt.
Learning is also about keeping your thumb on the pulse of your industry. Things you thought were ideal 10 years ago may be obsolete today. It will be in your best interest to keep up with trends and technologies. After all, it’s safe to assume that your competition is doing just that.
12. Understand the Usefulness of a Business Plan
A business plan is a document that is instrumental in securing loans from banks and investors. However, it can also be helpful to you as a way to visualize where you want your company to be in the future.
Even if you’re starting this venture without a dime to your name, developing this plan can be a great exercise to get you in the right frame of mind. Be realistic with your plan as it will help you keep focused on what you’re trying to accomplish.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be used as a positive focal point.
13. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
If you already have a job, you’ll want to keep it. As you’re going into setting up an online business with no money, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your own bills paid. It could be months or even years before you get to a point where you can comfortably quit your regular job.
This shouldn’t dissuade you from trying, though. Some online ventures have been known to deliver quick results depending on the industry. Just make sure your own debts are covered before you cut ties to your current job.
Think of it more like a part-time job that has excellent opportunities for future advancement.
14. Maintain a Good Budget Plan
Once the money starts coming in, you need to set up a comprehensive budget plan. After all, putting money back into the business could increase your income. Focusing more on purchases that can further your business is ideal. Expanding inventory, adding services or even increasing advertising could all be beneficial.
You don’t want your success to become stagnant. You don’t have to set up an extensive research and development section of your online business, though. Put a few extra dollars into something that will boost your success.
According to statistics, approximately 75 percent of business owners stated how marketing was effective. This doesn’t mean you need to put in thousands of dollars in something like Google Adwords. However, it does show how setting up a good budget plan can help your online business grow by setting aside a few dollars for advertising.
15. Be Confident In Yourself
Having confidence plays a major role in just about anything you do. Without being confident in your abilities and decisions, it may be difficult to achieve success. Doubting yourself can influence your decisions.
Don’t think of negative situations as a failure. Instead, view them as a way to learn and grow. If you apply what you have learned today, it can make you a stronger person for tomorrow. It also doesn’t hurt to surround yourself with people who can support you when things look tense. What you may view as bad today may actually turn out to be a blessing later on if you keep a cool head.
Although there is nothing wrong with having a bit of cash to start an online business, it’s not an absolute requirement. Tenacity, exploration and diligence will be your greatest tools when trying to make a mark for yourself. Keep in mind that more than 14 million people are self-employed in the United States, and not all of them had money to start. Find your own potential to help you discover financial freedom by owning your own business.